Recently, the American Kennel Club has observed a disturbing trend in legislative proposals at the state and local level aimed at arbitrarily restricting standard, accepted dog training methodologies and approaches.
Some of these proposals, such as those observed in New York State and Hillsborough County, Florida, created extensive new licensing requirements for all trainers, established arbitrary and extensive training and paperwork requirements for any dog ever attending even a single training class, including a “drop-in” training class; and broadened the definition of professional trainers subject to licensing to include kennel clubs, dog training clubs and other not-for-profit community centers that provide basic dog training as a community service. Some measures would also designate or allow animal protection groups to arbitrarily determine which training methodologies would be allowed.
The AKC has grave concerns about placing the oversight of trainers and training practices in the hands of groups or individuals with little or no experience in dog training. Furthermore, arbitrary and draconian regulations governing individual trainers and “allowable” training methodologies could force many clubs and community-based dog training programs to close down, and undermine professionals who could be forced to subvert their best professional judgment to arbitrary training rules. The ultimate impact of such laws would be to weaken effective training programs, reduce access to training, increase the cost of training, and increase animal control problems associated with a lack of dog training options.
The AKC Board of Directors has responded to these concerns with the adoption of a new legislative position statement to encourage use of thoughtful, appropriate training methodologies for all dogs and to recognize the value of preserving a range of training options so that the training needs of all dogs, their owners, and their particular circumstances can be met. It also serves as an additional guideline for AKC and AKC clubs as they work to educate the public, states, and municipalities on the value of responsible dog ownership and training.
The position statement follows:
“Training in appropriate behavior is an important part of responsible dog ownership and enables a dog to be a respected and cherished part of family and community life. Appropriate training can help prevent dogs from being relinquished for behavioral issues and can deepen the bond between owners and their dogs. Individual dogs respond differently to a variety of approaches. AKC recognizes that there are numerous effective approaches to training that produce desirable results such as obedience and Canine Good Citizen® designations. Government entities should not arbitrarily restrict accepted, appropriate and effective dog training practices.”